Judge David Johnson is King of the Cul de Sacs.
Only the strong survive.
It's been longer than I remember since the last overseas beat'em-up wowed me. This one has potential.
Facts of the Case
Yue Feng (real-life martial artist Yue Song) is a troubled kid, who's scratched out a hard life on the streets, leaning on his wits and his fearsome pugilist skills to make it day to day. After a stint in prison, he finds himself back at square one and that particular landing spot is terrible. Lots of guys there, waiting to punch and kick at your face.
Okay. Feeling good about this one. King of the Streets is not a historical period piece, or an ultra-stylized take on a Chinese folk tale that I have no clue about, which have been virtually every Asian actioner I've crossed paths with recently. Not to knock on those releases, but, frankly, I'm ready for a straight-forward slice of balls-kicking performed by actors not named Matt Damon.
Right away, the authenticity is here. Yue Feng is a legit practitioner of the deadly arts and from the first moment he uncorks his fists of fury, that fact is obvious. He can play; does the film match up to his talent?
Yes and no.
Yes: After a slow build-up and some super-corny story beats, the writers turn Yue Song loose, placing him in a series of battles that comprise much of the third act. It's decently choreographed and his opponents are varied in their styles. The eventual pay-off has some added weight to it thanks to the completely predictable showdown with one of Sue's close pals.
No: All that action is good and all, and I sincerely mean it when I say I appreciate the effort in stocking the runtime with a hefty amount of bouts, but in the age of Ong Bak and The Raid: Redemption, if you can't give the audience something cool and memorable then…well, then it's just another also-ran in the martial arts genre. That's what keeps King of the Streets from elevating: There's just nothing here that will blow your skirt up. Yue Feng is skilled but there's not a single sequence I can point to that will wow; in fact, the more I think about it, there's not a single sequence I can remember.
Solid Blu-ray: a clean 1.78:1/1080p HD transfer, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and no extras.
This King of the Streets is close, with some satisfying fisticuffs, but in the end he's just not noteworthy enough to earn the crown.
Sorry, but you're going to have to abdicate.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
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